While she was strong in magic, Dagrun Stardark knew she was outnumbered in the dungeon, and her treasury was spare. The Empress, therefore, cultivated the former glory of the dwarven empire to instill a sense of unity and pride in the citizens.
To that end, she founded a university and expanded it with numerous colleges and faculties over the years. It came to be renowned for its elite professors and fine collections of magical texts and knowledge of the Throrgrmir empire.
The Empress explored much of her domain, seeking knowledge of the dwarves’ culture and objects of their making. It is known, for example, that she learned the art of creating living statues from the Stone of Living Statues and that she wielded a dwarven artifact called the Wyrmwyrd, with which she subdued Ormr and made the Great Wyrm to pay homage.
Kobolds made a lair in the dwarves’ old power plant above the magma chamber. They riddled the areas west of the Deepmost Cavern with tunnels and harassed Ixmundyr. They stole from him, he extorted them, and the wyrm-touched dragon was killed in a fight with the kobolds.
The shadow hulk hunted the denizens of Legendary Throrgardr to extinction. The hulk then made its lair in the city’s wizard’s quarter, and, tunneling into the Hall of Living Statues, hunted its guardians.
Stone giants moved into an old gem mine. They routed the shadow hulk and began to exploit the gem deposits on the stratum. They built a castle in the gem caves, opened a tunnel behind the Hall of Statues to the gem deposit, amassed great wealth, and fell under the Empire’s sway.
A party of adventurers went looking for the dwarven city of Throrgardr. They discovered the wizard’s quarter of Legendary Throrgardr and the stone giant. They inhabited the tower, slew the stone giant, and took his rich treasure.
The adventurers had a number of encounters with wyrmlings, who stole their treasure, and on one occasion they ventured into the Great Wyrm’s lair to steal their treasure back. The adventurers eventually swore fealty to the Empress.
Following rumors spread by adventurers of rich treasure and a law-keeping empire in the dungeon below, humans moved in. Farmers tilled the fertile soil on the flood plain, and built a keep to protect themselves and a silo to store grain. Good harvests brought wealth. The farmers swore fealty to the Empress and established a city called Troelsvollr.1
The next dragon who came to the dungeon hoping to fulfill the Wyrm Prophecy was named Gullhringr. The gold dragon made her lair in an eastern branch of the gold vein. There, she slept and hoarded her treasure.
Dagrun Stardark learned that Wyrmling Beta, the weakest wyrm spawn, made her way toward the dragon’s lair. Understanding the consequences of the weak wyrm’s touch,2 the Empress built walls to trap the creature. Henceforth, the enclosed section of the gold mine was called Wyrmgardr.
Later, Wyrmlings Gamma and Epsilon approached the dragon’s lair. Preferring to be touched by the more powerful of the two, Gullhringr hunted Epsilon and so was touched.3
Although Gullhringr and Dagrun Stardark were often allied, the former never paid homage to the latter.
Decline of Wyrms
While collecting treasure from various inhabitants, the wyrmlings were wounded in failed thieving attempts and hunted by predators until only one survived. When one of her clutch died, the Great Wyrm was wounded and so lost much life force.
The fiend Murtax, vassal to the Empress, was a frequent target of the wyrmlings thievery. He killed them when he could and expanded his territory to surround the Wyrm’s Lair. He made plans to slay the Great Wyrm and, thereby, recover his own treasure and lots more.4
1 Troelsvollr: Troels (Thor’s arrow) + vollr (field). Troels is a given name, but that did not prevent in later periods the bastardization of the now-ruined city’s name to Trollsfeld.
2 The wyrmling’s touch grants her bonus, if any, to a dragon. Lowest in the wyrmling hierarchy, Beta had no bonus. Since a dragon cannot be touched twice, Beta’s touch would be a curse to any dragon hoping to reign during the Age of Dragons.
3 Epsilon, high in the hierarchy, was one of the most powerful of the sister serpents. Gullhringr adds 2 to all dice rolls.
4 Murtax kept copious notes of his activities and purposes and recorded much of his infernal magic. He wrote in a demonic script on sheets of wyrmling hide, which he sewed together into large volumes, using long tendons from wyrmling wings.